Words, Words, Words

April 10, 2001

Since I don't have a local comics shop, I get my comics in monthly shipments. This month's lump came last week.

The standout comic was Lone Wolf and Cub, now up to volume 6. These are short thick paperbacks from Dark Horse reprinting a classic Japanese series about a wandering assassin and his son. Itto Ogami was the Shogun's personal executioner until he was disgraced by the Yagyu clan. He is an extraordinarily skilled swordsmen and possessed of an intense sense of honor. (However, the fact that he's willing to kill people for money should clue you in to the fact that this is not an overly sentimentalized form of honor, and should not in any way be confused with goodness or altruism.) The plot is naturally somewhat episodic and formulaic, but with enough variety to keep it interesting. What really makes the series exceptional, though, is the presence of Daigoro, the Lone Wolf's cub. A mute witness to his father's killings, Daigoro is possessed with an uncanny stoicism and understanding of meifumado, the path to hell, on which he has chosen to join his father. Highly recommended.

The first issue of Phil Foglio's new series, Girl Genius, is also out. Girl Genius is set in an alternate universe where science is replaced by mad science, where people with the Spark are capable of building robots, airships, giant carnivorous pea plants, and assorted other fantastic contrivances. This isn't as funny as Foglio's other work, but the worldbuilding and backstory seems to be much more complex. Worth a look.

Gotham Noir is a fun one-shot set in the late '40's, with private eye James Gordon on the run for a crime he didn't commit, desperate to find the real killer before he and the people close to him pay the price. I liked it.

Tellos: Reluctant Heroes collects the first five issues of the fantasy series, plus the prologue and some sketches. It's a run-of-the-mill fantasy in a lot of ways, but the stock characters and plot is enlivened by some inspired silliness, like frog warriors and acts of truly impressive stupidity. ("My left or your left?" "THEY'RE THE SAME THING!") I would have preferred a thicker collection that had something resembling a natural stopping point, but this is a nice fun volume.

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